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GOP Debate 2015: Republicans Face Off In Cleveland

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The top 10 candidates in the polls took the stage Thursday night in Cleveland in their quest to become the 2016 GOP nominee. The top 10 candidates in the polls took the stage Thursday night in Cleveland in their quest to become the 2016 GOP nominee.

The top 10 candidates in the polls took the stage Thursday night in Cleveland in their quest to become the 2016 GOP nominee. They are: businessman Donald Trump (with a polling average of 23.4 percent), former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. 

Here are some highlights:

The debate began with moderator Bret Baier asking the candidates to raise their hands if they could not pledge to support the eventual GOP nominee and not run as an independent against the nominee. Only Trump raised his hand.

"I cannot say that I have to respect the person, that if it's not me, the person that wins. If I do win -- and I'm leading by quite a bit -- that's what I want to do. I can totally make that pledge, if I'm the nominee I will pledge I will not run as an independent. I am discussing it with everybody. I'm talking about a lot of leverage. We want to win and we will win. But I want to win as the republican. I want to run as the Republican nominee," Trump said.

Paul jumped in and said Trump is essentially hedging his bets, ready to support the Clintons.

"He buys and sells politicians of all stripes...he's always hedging his bets because he's used to buying politicians," Paul said.

Trump retorted that he'd given money to Paul, too.

Rubio was asked to respond to allegations from Bush that only people who are governors have had the necessary experience to be president.

"If this election is a resume competition then Hillary Clinton is going to be the next president," Rubio said. "This election better be about the future, not the past."

Does Bush understand concerns about dynastic politics?

"I'm going to run hard, run with heart and run to win. I'm going to have to win this. Maybe the barrier is going to be even higher for me. That's fine," he said, and went on to talk about his record in Florida.

Moderator Megyn Kelly listed a host of negative things that Trump has said about women -- "Only Rosie O'Donnell," Trump quipped halfway through (Kelly corrected him and said his comments extended beyond O'Donnell) -- and asked Trump how he would defend against charges that he is leading the war on women.

Walker was asked if he really would let a woman die instead of getting an abortion if her life was in danger.

"I'm pro life, I've always been pro life, I've got a position I think is consistent with many Americans out there in that I believe an unborn child is in need of protection out there, and I've said many times that that unborn child can be protected and there are many other alternatives that will protect the life of that mother. That's been consistently proven," he said.

Bush defended his earlier comments from last year calling illegal immigration an "act of love."

"I believe that the great majority of people coming here illegally have no other option. They want to provide for their family. But we need to control our border," he said.

Then the immigration questions went to Trump, who defended his comments about Mexican immigrants being rapists and criminals once again.

He was pressed by moderator Chris Wallace to answer the original question -- what evidence he had for claiming that it was the Mexican government sending those immigrants to the U.S.

"Border patrol. I was at the border last week. Border patrol people that I deal with, that I talk to, they say this is what's happening because our leaders are stupid, our politicans are stupid, and the Mexican government is much smarter...they send the bad ones over because they don't want to take care of them," Trump said. "That's whats happening, whether you like it or not."

A back and forth between Christie and Paul got heated over the issue of NSA surveillance. Christie has been vocally critical of Paul for opposing bulk collection of Americans' phone records.

When Paul said, "I want to collect more records from terrorists," Christie responded, "That's a completely ridiculous answer - I want to collect more records from terrorists but less records from other people. How are you supposed to know?"

"Get a warrant!" Paul said

"Listen senator when you're sitting in subcommittee just blowing hot air about this you can say things like that," Christie responded.

Paul: "You fundamentally misunderstand the Bill of Rights...I don't trust President Obama with our records. I know you gave him a big hug and if you want to give him a hug again, go right ahead," he said, a reference to Christie's famous embrace of the president in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

 Walker was the only candidate to be asked about the issue of the many recent deaths of African Americans at the hands of white police officers.

"It's about training. It's about making sure that law enforcement professionals, not only on the way in to their positions, but all the way through their time, have the proper training, particularly when it comes to use of force and that we protect and stand up for and protect the men and women who are doing their jobs in law enforcement. And for the very few that don't, that there are consequences to show that we treat everyone the same here in America," he said.

In closing statements, many of the candidates talked about their families and their records. Given that he doesn't have a political record, Carson went for a different tack -- and some humor.

"Well I haven't said anything about me being the only one to do anything, so let me try that. I'm the only one to separate Siamese twins, the only one to operate on babies while they were still in their mother's womb, the only one to take out half of a brain although you would think if you go to Washington that someone had beat me to it," he said.

Read the complete story on CBSNews.com

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